Church Work Is Not Always Convenient
Sit down with computer, pen, and paper. Compute logistics of working with Hope Charitable Services/Frank Allen in Portsmouth, VA. Release Frank to negotiate with a foundation in Texas. Admit that you do not know all the persons in the background who will affect your dream of providing 4,158 blankets to needy people.
Leave open the date...you have no control.
You will get a 3-4 day notice.
You do not control the weather.
You cannot therefore be certain of volunteers - who or how many.
You cannot afford to hire people.
You have a burden. The congregation shares your burden. The staff is weighted with ministry... yet open for a project.
February 9th arrives... The temperature is 32 degrees... there are occasional flakes of snow... the wind is bout 20 MPH. The humidity high... which makes the air biting cold.
You have a tentative date and time for the arrival of the blankets. Without an advance call a truck from Houston TX turns into the church parking lot pulling a 53' long trailer. You look out and see three volunteers. It is time to pray.
The driver climbs down out of his monstrous Peterbilt truck... thank God he is a Christian. We have no loading ramp. No forklift. No hand dolly. He shares that typical time for such circumstances takes 5-6 hours to unload.
The Holy Spirit takes authority over the logistics. Staff members. Covenant folks. Ministers and members of other churches. Volunteers who do not attend church. Trucks, trailers, cars.
Josh, our youngest son, must have seen the look in my eyes. "Dad, let me have it," he said. He is awesome in such moments!
I stood with my yellow note pad to keep records. It was a hopeless endeavor on my part. Vehicles backed up to the trailer...boxes came off - sometimes with women pushing/carrying them. Others carried boxes to cars and pick-up trucks.
About an hour and forty minutes later we were looking at the back of the truck. The driver was then challenged to weave the 65-foot long rig around the church parking lot through a construction area. Spanish workers were erecting steel for the North Annex. We had to move construction equipment in record time.
The driver pulled away smiling - stunned that we had manually unloaded in such a short time. Vehicles were on the road to homeless shelters, churches, social agencies and homes. Taxi and Uber drivers picked up blankets for their cars to give homeless or other needy people (or others) they might meet nights. Communities within a 75-mile radius were blessed! Fuel trucks took blankets to share with folks. A former missionary loaded up to take blankets out in the country to needy folks. Blankets were taken to winter camps for immigrants.
If a person had been charged to work out such logistics the logical conclusion would have been: "THIS IS AN IMPOSSIBLE PROJECT! DO NOT VENTURE TO DO IT! IT WILL BE A DISASTER!
It is wonderful when planning synchronizes events to be as smooth as the harmony of an orchestra. However, a careful reading of the life of Jesus reveals the potent truth that the work of the Lord is subject to sudden and radical turns. Jesus lays down to sleep in a boat and the devil tries to sink the boat. Storms test our metal. Storms test our character. Storms form our character. Storms reveal our character. Storms reveal who we really are.
It was not a disaster. It was a God moment. The community celebrated. Two TV stations covered the event.
I am deeply grateful to Josh and a host of volunteers. Staff also came through with royal colors!
Before the week was over we had to sit down and plan another logistical happening... knowing all variables cannot be controlled. Twelve babies were to be dedicated by parents on Sunday morning.
We are building a North Annex.
Building programs always have their surprises.
Yet in all this there is order. We are focused. We do what we do because our hearts beat to love God and people. We give ourselves away not just in a chorus but in life. We celebrate opportunities to go outside the box to serve. If we wait until everything is perfect the best of God's plans for us will come to pass.
Yes, we work hard, we plan, we develop strategy... so when there is sudden opportunity or challenge we are able to adapt quickly to maximize the moment for Jesus!
We are privileged to see God take difficult situations and them into beautiful victories!
When you pray please do not ask God to keep "messy" opportunities away from us. Pray that we will prepare with excellence and know when the Holy Spirit is sending adventure and opportunity that are not normal.
Read Nehemiah for the struggles of obstacles and victories of overcoming. Remember those who helped were rewarded. Those who did not help have no claim to putting up the walls in 52 days!